Last week the online interaction design magazine Johnny Holland searched the far ends of the earth (and down the back of their sofa) to enlist the services of four leading content strategists (and me) to help them dedicate a week’s worth of articles to this emerging-but-really-quite-old-all-the-same discipline.
So it was a case of five articles from five different authors spread over five days. Here’s a recap:
Brain Traffic‘s Meghan Casey kicked off proceedings with a smart demonstration of how a strategic approach to content can help overcome four all-too-common stumbling blocks we’ve all experienced during a web project.
Here are some things developers and programmers can do. Okay. It’s only one thing: Demand actual content before you start building a website. Tell your clients that’s your process. It’ll force them to get granular about content early on. If they look scared, send them to a content strategist.
Make it simple to keep content up-to-date by avoiding complex approval workflows for your content. It’s much better to have a simple process that everyone uses well, than a complex beast that authors do their best to avoid.
My turn. It’s long been known that the best way to really learn about something is to write about it and publish it to all and sundry. If you makes a series of incorrect statements or generally comes across as a complete tit then at least the whole world knows to cross the road when they see you coming. I think I got away with it this time with an article about how to help our audiences understand our web content. Cue an unintentionally self-absorbed snippet:
Never before have we had so much control and choice over how our web content is delivered and displayed. One minute we could be using a mobile device while sat in a noisy, crowded train carriage and the next we’re using a desktop computer in the more tranquil surroundings of our own home; two reading conditions that call for different levels of concentration and yet we’re often trying to consume the same written web content in order to complete the same interactions.
Recognizing a content lifecycle means recognizing that the business of creating and publishing content follows a recognizable, predictable, repeatable process. While the sub-processes may be subject to variations between content genres, as well as situation-specific variations, the overall process is consistent and stable. The content lifecycle describes an organic system, and is system-agnostic.
I want to know if the content we’re being asked to create is the content people have any interest in at all, or if it’s wasting my client’s budget. I want reliable evidence—from my audience or users—that the content we recommend to a client is worth his money. I want my client to be able to plan and budget his content requirements in the same way he plans and budgets all his business resources and expenditure.
… to Jeroen van Geel, Kristina Halvorson, and others for their direct involvement in this week-long content strategy jamboree. But special praise has to be reserved for Colleen Jones for her time, patience, and encouragement. Let’s do it again sometime soon.